Smart meters and grids are innovations in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (‘ICTs’), the goal of which is to enable consumers to reduce their electricity consumption, and hence to protect the environment. Their so-called smartness derives from them being ICT-enabled (as opposed to regular, “normal” or “dumb” electric meters and/or grids). They are an essential component of the European Union’s (‘EU’) “ICT for Energy Efficiency” (‘ICT4EE’) strategy. This strategy is itself an element of the EU’s energy efficiency policy, which underpins most of its environmental protection work. However, as communication technologies, the processing of personal data is at the core of the meters’ functioning. For this reason, the privacy literature has commented on the serious risks they present to the rights to privacy/data protection, not least because their roll out is foreseen in the whole EU.
The aim of this contribution is to explore the environmental aspect of smart grids and smart meters, an issue that has so far been left fallow in the privacy literature. An exploration of the smart grids’ environmental aspect is warranted as it might lead to better privacy protection. In particular, it might allow for a reconciliation to be achieved between two goals that appear to conflict from the outset, namely, environmental and privacy protection.
PHD Candidate at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Faculty of Law, Research Group on Law, Science, Technology and Society.
This research has been undertaken in the context of the national research project ‘A Risk to a Right? Exploring a new notion in data protection law’, funded by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) (G046815N).
© 2012 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.